We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The admissions officers seem to believe that those planning to attend college view it largely as a signaling device that directs the best and brightest young Americans to the best and highest-paying jobs. It is not primarily about acquiring knowledge ("human capital"), critical learning or leadership skills, or better perceiving the difference between right and wrong, but more about achieving the American Dream of a comfortable, moderately affluent
College IS a trade school, it was when I went the first time on the 60's. Probably all started right after WWII with the GI Bill. If you want to tout the benefits of a liberal arts education, you know, the type where you're challenged, think about places like Hillsdale College, where they don't accept gummint money.
The rant is getting old, and none of us are going to change it until there are truly independent schools once again.
When universities were first established, they WERE trade schools. Their job was to prepare people for the ministry/priesthood. Then preparation of young men for government service was added. Then they prepared young men who were of the aristocracy, who already had an assured financial future, for a life where a good command of history, language, etc. was needed for performance of their aristocratic duty.
It wasn't until well after universities were created that the concept that middle-class and lower-class young men (and, relatively very recently, young women) - i.e., young people whose financial future was NOT already assurred - should be admitted for a university education. At which point preparing those people to achieve such a future became important.
This is where the people borrowing $100K for a degree in Women's Studies have missed the point. Yes, at one time colleges gave you a general liberal arts education that would generally prepare you for pursuit of the career of your choice. But two things conspire against that being a useful path now:
1) People no longer get a general liberal arts degree. Look up the definition of "liberal arts". Surprise! There's math! There's physical sciences! It's not all social "science" and literature and political mush. But these days someone with a liberal arts degree won't know any math outside of what they struggled through and quickly forgot in high school (which is why they're getting a liberal arts degree instead of a science, math or engineering one), never mind a semester or two of calculus. Nor will they have had a semester or two of chemistry or biology so that they at least understand the basic physical principles on which our civilization is built. And then there's things like Logic or Rhetoric, that enable you to cut through bull$h!t. Nope, too absolute for the relativists running schools now.
2) Our workplace has become highly specialized. Why should a marketing form hire a B.A. in English when they can hire a B.A. in marketing? Of course, this risks that the graduate, not having much of a broadly-based education, will tend to miss the forest for the trees, but the people in charge figure that it's their job to deal with the forest. Let the peons tend to the trees.
"Why should a marketing form hire a B.A. in English when they can hire a B.A. in marketing?"
I've hired a lot of people for marketing jobs of various kinds, and it's generally a good thing if they can (a)write well, (b)speak well, (with or without PowerPoint), and (c)debate astutely. I don't think either the undergraduate English degree or the undergraduate Marketing degree offers much assurance of excellence in these categories.
A true liberal arts education, though, encompassing Rhetoric as well as Logic, with considerable writing and close reading, would indeed be of value for the new marketing person. But today's universities don't seem very interested in offering such an education.